Books Boys Like

This reading list was born out of our search for books boys like, but chances are your girls will love these too. The list starts with picture books and ends with high-school level books, although the order isn’t precise.

Reading list of books boys like.What have we missed? If you don’t see something you think should be on the “books boys like” list, please let use know in the comments below.

Also, don’t miss the Historical Fiction for Young Readers list. When there is a particular edition we prefer, we have linked to Amazon (and of course, those are affiliate links—full disclosure in the footer of every page on the site).

To go along with this list of books for boys, you might enjoy the list of Music for Boys (mostly classical, of course) at Professor Carol’s excellent website.

[List format: title, author, original publication date]

O = out of print (often difficult to find, but worth checking your library or used book store)

Books Boys Like

    • Pelle’s New Suit,  Ella Beskow, circa 1930s
    • Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson, 1955
    • The Story of Ferdinand,  Munro Leaf, 1936
    • Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea, Cynthia Rylant, 1993
    • Henry and Mudge in the Green Time, Cynthia Rylant, 1987
    • Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat, Cynthia Rylant
      • (There are other Henry and Mudge books as well.)
    • The Great White Man-Eating Shark, Margaret Mahy, 1989
    • Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Gingerbread, Maj Lindman, 1936
    • Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes, Maj Lindman, 1932, 1994
      • (There are other Snipp, Snapp, Snurr books as well.)
    • Sam and the Firefly, P.D. Eastman, 1958

Sam and the Firefly by P. D. Eastman

  • A Child’s Garden of Verses,  Robert Lois Stephenson, circa 1800s
  • Make Way for Ducklings,  Robert McCloskey, 1941, 1969
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judi Barrett, 1978
  • Thanksgiving at the Tapletons,  Eileen Spinelli, 1982
  • The Adventures of Buster Bear, Thornton Burgess, 1916, 1941 (There is a series of related books featuring various animals.)
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,  Virginia Lee Burton, 1939, 1967
  • Mop Top, Don Freeman, 1955
  • Sam the Minuteman, Nathaniel Benchley, 1969
  • Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds (a special favorite)
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Fairy tales (J. R. R. Tolkien on Fairy Tales; G. K. Chesterton on Fairy Tales)
  • Aesop’s Fables (G. K. Chesterton on Aesop and his Fables)
  • The Children’s Homer, Padraic Collum


  • Crazy Quilt, Paul Brown, 1934   O (out of print)
  • Piper’s Pony, Paul Brown, 1935  O
  • Three Rings, Paul Brown, 1938   O
  • Mick and Mac, Paul Brown, 1937  O (Circus animals interact with children on a farm.  Wonderful.)
    • Burt Dow Deep-Water Man, Robert McCloskey, 1963
    • Wee Gillis,  Munro Leaf, 1938
    • Calico the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Stinker, Virginia Lee Burton, 1941, 1950
    • Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, Ian Fleming, 1964
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
    • Mouse on the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

  • The Adventures of Tintin in Red Rackham’s Treasure (1934) and other graphic novels in this series by Herge´ (a graphic novel is a story told in comic book format). These international stories of intrigue are quite entertaining. You might find your boys making a dictionary of Captain Haddock insults! These books are available in many languages, making them an excellent supplement to a foreign language program.


  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower, Ann McGovern, 1969, 1991
  • If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, Ellen Levine, 1986
  • If You Lived At the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Ellen Levine, 1987
  • If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln, Ann McGovern, 1966, 1992  (harder)
  • If You Grew Up with George Washington, Ruth Belov Gross, 1982  (harder)
  • Buffalo Bill, Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, 1952
  • Abraham Lincoln,  Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, 1939, 1957
  • George Washington, Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, 1936
  • Ben Franklin, Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, 1950 (Harder than the others.)
  • And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Jean Fritz, 1973
  • The Market Square Dog, James Herriott, 1977
  • Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution, Jean Fritz, 1987

    • Homer Price, Robert McCloskey, 1943 (“The Doughnut Machine” and other wonderful stories have made this a favorite.)
    • The Enormous Egg, Butterworth, 1956
    • Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Atwater, 1938
    • Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1933
    • Charlotte‘s Web,  E. B. White, 1952
    • Stuart Little,  E. B. White, 1945
    • The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
    • My Side of the Mountain, Jean George, 1959
    • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 (This is an amazing book.)
  • James and the Giant Peach, and others by Roald Dahl
    • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster, 1961
    • A Wrinkle in Time  and its sequels, Madeleine L’Engle, 1962
    • Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, 1950-1956 (7 books, the first of which is The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe)

  • The Dragon of Cripple Creek, Troy Howell, 2011 
  • The Green Ember, S. D. Smith (series) 2014
      • Down East, Lewis Pendleton, 1937  O (Very tall tales of sailing adventures.  Features Captain Isaac Drinkwater.)
      •  Little Britches, Ralph Moody, 1950
      • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1881, 1911 (The classic tale of pirate treasure.  The N.C. Wyeth plates in the Scribners edition are wonderful.)
      • Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling, 1897

  • Robin Hood, Paul Creswick, (date not listed), Scribners
  • The Chestry Oak, Kate Seredy, 1961
  • The Good Master, Kate Seredy, 1935
  •  The Diamond in the Window, Jane Langton, 1962
  • The Fledgling, Jane Langton, 1980
  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908


Foundlings, Paladins, and Loresmen by Matthew Christian Harding

    • The Peleg Chronicles (Foundlings, Paladins, and Loresmen) by Matthew Christian Harding. This relatively recent trilogy is set in the time before the Tower of Babel and features no magic. Harding is a master of the cliffhanger ending, so start these when you have time to read them all the way through!
    • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and others by Jules Verne, 1869, translated and annotated by Miller and Walter,  Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1993. (This newest translation is particularly good.  Have a globe handy for tracing the route of the Nautilus.)
    •  Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb, 1807 (Also available in hardbound through used bookstores. This summarizes the Shakespeare plays in simpler language. Try reading one of the comedies here, then the full Shakespeare play.)
    • The Giver, Lois Lowry

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

  • The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, 1966.
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, 1719 (This appeals to children on one level, and to adults on another. A somewhat difficult read.)
  • Two Little Savages, Earnest Thompson Seton, 1903. Our boys wore this book out — not just by constant re-reading, but also by taking it outside for instruction in how to make and do all sorts of real-guy things. The linked edition is complete and includes all the illustrations.
  • Mysterious Island, Jules Verne, 1875, 1918, Scribner (“Can-do” castaways reinvent civilization. Captain Nemo makes a surprise appearance. Challenging read.)
  • Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • Swallows & Amazons, Ransome, 1931 (This requires or will develop an extensive nautical vocabulary. Great for sailing enthusiasts.)
  • Tarzan books (the original series), Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912-1965
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan, 1915 (John Buchan wrote other great stories as well. Our son enjoyed these books once he was able to deal with the old-fashioned style and vocabulary. The pace is very different from a modern book — not necessarily a bad thing!)
  • Ivanhoe and others by Sir Walter Scott

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy (My Side of the Mountain / On the Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful's Mountain) by Jean Craighead George

Thanks to Malcolm and Peg Shealy for sharing a significant portion of the “books boys like” list with us. Of course, no reading list is ever complete, so we continue to add to it as we re-read old favorites or discover new books that boys are sure to like. If you or your sons have a favorite book you think we should add, please let us know. 


As always, any Amazon links are affiliate links.

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